Saturday, March 31, 2012

absolutely mesmerizing.

If you could see the wind - actually see its speed and direction - what would that look like? Thanks to the works of technologists/artists, Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, the wind becomes as mesmerizing as the flowing hair of a beautiful woman.

This graphic is updated hourly from the National Weather Service's wind data reports. What do you think?

Pursing my lips

A few years ago, my potential mom-in-law gave my potential wife-to-be one of those expensive Nino Bossi purses. Yesterday, I noticed that my possible lifetime mate had stapled one of the straps that had broke back on to this extravagant bag. Obviously, she is in need of a new purse.

Given my engineer training, I immediately began concentrating on the 3 F's: form, fit, function. I had my almost-love-of-my-life empty her purse. Out poured wallets and checkbooks (note the plural), enough keys to unlock every locker at a New York City bus station, a mountain of candies to make Willy Wonka jealousy, half of the Amazon forest in the form of paper receipts, and more embarrassing items than I care to mention.

Being the practical guy that I am, I suggested she get one of those small backpacks. She replied by adding two more F's to my strict engineering guidelines: fashion and an expression not printable in polite company.

Every day with her is such a joy. Perhaps "potential wife-to-be" is too definite of a term.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Mega-Millions? Not for me.

I'm not playing the Mega-millions for one simple reason: I'm afraid I will beat the daunting risk of 1 in 175 million and win. This means I will have proved I can beat the odds - any of them.

So, during my resulting vacationing trip to Hawaii, I will get attacked by a shark (odds: 1 in 11.5 million). As the ambulance rushes me to the hospital, we hit a Hawaiian deer (odds: 1 in 6,267). I then deliver conjoined twins (odds: 1 in 200,000), or so the hospital mistakenly charges me for (odds: 1 in 2).

No, I'm staying safe and sound, huddled under my blanket, in my closet, in a iron safe with the door shut. Odds of me getting out ... oh crap, I didn't count on that. Help!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

bacon, bacon, bacon, bacon.

I'm not making this up! Honest! So if your dog needs another reason to look for tasty treats in the cat's litter box, Clorex now has bacon-scented cat litter. Mmmm Mmmmm.

In an upcoming commercial, a happy dog looks up into the camera and says, "My, my, I don't know what the cat's been eating but this delicious bacon has a crunch AND a squish! I'm so full of joy right now, lots of tootsie rolls of joy; I need to find someone and give their face several licks of thanks! Bacon, bacon, bacon, bacon, bacon"

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

spread out, spread out

When I was younger, I often heard my elders talk about "the middle-age spread". I thought it meant you would become very wealthy by your middle-age years, buy lots of land, and then brag about the acres of spread you own.

Now that I am middle-aged, I can see that I've been sorely misled. Still, the dreaded middle-aged spread has not affected my abdomen too much. In fact, I have a very well-defined six-pack. I've just found it easier to protect my taut stomach muscles with an almost slight-ish layer of fat – "slight-ish" when compared to very fluffy pillows or a triple-decker cheeseburger with chile (extra mayo, super-size the fries, and, oh, a diet Pepsi please). Yeah, slight. Almost. Ish. Okay, so my spread is more about what I put on my bread than about the acreage that I don't have to not exercise on.

Yes, I could eat more in the form of capsules. I could start sprinkling diet pills among the candy sprinkles on my ice cream. But, with so many colorful pills available, I'm not sure what flavor goes best with banana split. And what about the side effects? I don't mean the good kind like the extra side plate you have put next to you on your table at the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet.

Yes, I could learn more at That's not to say that I don't think those pills are effective. I understand they do a good job of thinning your wallet. I'm just wondering if I might be able to contain my spread with something a little more economical. Like a little duct tape. In my case, maybe a little more than just "a little". You can fix anything with duct tape. Do you know that you can reinforce a paper plate to hold two roast chickens during an outdoor BBQ? Mmmmmmm... Excuse me, my middle-age spread is calling.

a little uncertainty.

For almost 100 years, scientist have been telling us layman (and women) that one of the certainties of our lives rest in the Heisenberg's uncertainty principle – the idea that we cannot observe speed of a particle without affecting its course, and we cannot observe the course of a particle without affecting its speed.

No matter how certain scientist are about of this principle, it certainly didn't prove itself to the five of us standing at a street corner today. We all watched as a woman, chatting merrily on her cell phone, drove her car towards our intersection. As we watched the course of her car barreling down the roadway, her speed never changed. As we made repeated notes of her speed, her path never veered the slightest ... until she suddenly came to a disastrous stop. Not because of Heisenberg and our observational powers, but because of simpler physics - that of another car already occupying the space in front of the glowing red traffic light.

Maybe that's why this uncertainty principle works so well for scientists: particles never travel while holding tiny cell phones to their subatomic ears. Obviously, cell phone companies won't sell phone services to this tiny particles.

Why? When was the last time you heard of the phone company sending anyone a small bill? I think we can be certain of that one.

Monday, March 26, 2012

mixin' it up

In the beginning, the Moog synthesizer met the 8-track recording system, and thus began the days of innovative audio mixing with very expensive electronic equipment. It was good and there was much rejoicing. Nay, it was great!

Of course, only a privileged few, with the limitless financial backing of their recording companies, could create the innovative musical style that still influences our tunes today.

Things are much easier now. Almost 50 years later, all you need is a few $20 in the bank and a half-baked desire to become a recording artist. The power to mix sounds with say, one of those Stanton dj mixers has never been more tempting.

Yet, with this great power comes great responsibility, as that great philosopher, Spiderman, once said. Really great. Human history is full of great examples of disastrous mixing. Over 100 years ago, someone mixed the Blue and the Gray and started a Civil War. Certainly not great. The extremely talented Richard Pryor (who is beyond great) told of the time he mixed pasteurize milk with low-fat milk, added a cookie and accidentally set himself on fire. (And ended up with a great, though painful, routine.)

So how do we stop anyone from easily mixing the unnatural with the unholy and creating musically grating terror? For example, what is there to stop someone from mixing the passionate sounds of Spanish music with a horn section of a German polka band? The next thing you know, Mexican restaurants will be filled with the sounds of Banda.

Okay, perhaps we're too late on that. But hopefully someone will think twice before mixing, say, rap with bluegrass music. Wouldn't the world sound a little better without having to worry about ... oh, square dance music. Okay, sorry, another bad example.

All I'm pointing out is that we have to be on guard against corrupting the electronic harmonies started 50 years ago. If we let some mixed-up kid get his or her hands on a cheap mixer, who knows what disasters will be unleashed on the world! The next thing you know we'll have peanut butter in our chocolate, confusion over bird calls and short computer messages, and hours of reality TV shows with rich, untalented people.

Don't mind me. I'm just trying to mix it up. Great.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

It took 2 weeks.

Well, it happened. The big boss called me into his office - I was busted. And not the good kind of bust that involves a bra (though you could argue that I was still dealing with a boob). You would think that as a 50 year old, I would no longer have to worry about "getting in trouble", especially with authority figures. You don't know me very well, do you?

First of all, let me state for the record: I am NOT a troublemaker. A prankster, maybe. A pain of conscience to those in charge who should know better, perhaps. But I don't intentionally act as that troublesome jerk we all loathe - such as our plant manager who set the events of this post in motion.

The plant manager is not a bad fellow. He just has the car salesman's gift of being very believable while lying up a storm. Perhaps this is why upper management never notices how productive always increases when he's on vacation. As a manager, his skill involves unprovoked yelling at the female workers until they cry. Since many of these women live in fear of losing their jobs, he has gotten away with incredible episodes of sexually harassment over the years. What's not to like about the guy?

In any case, three weeks ago the powers-on-high decreed that all salary folk will henceforth swap their ID card upon entering and upon exiting the plant. "It is for your safety and we will not track this activity!", said the CFO to our smiling, salaried faces at a meeting.

Hourly people don't have to worry about this new requirement. Apparently, safety isn't a factor and hourly people are expendable. At the wages they have to settle for, I'm not surprised.

Our CFO didn't exactly lie since "they" aren't tracking anything. The plant manager, on the hand, needed something else to add to his daily activities of harassing and spirit-crushing. When he learned that he had access to the security logs, we discovered that he would spending hours tracking everyone's comings and goings and then tattle to his bosses. "So-and-so arrived 2 minutes late," he would report while failing to mention that so-and-so put in 10 salaried hours that day.

So after enough of these misleading reports to upper management, a few of us salaried peons started swapping in with our id card and then immediately swapped out as we entered the building. No one is tracking us right? Why would the CFO lie?

The joke went on for 2 weeks. The plant manager would make derisive comments whenever he saw us. Then I got called to the office of our VP of operation. "You need to swap in and out properly," he said kindly. "We just would to make sure that we know when you are safely in the building."

So now we are all good and safe little worker bees. But the joking isn't over just yet. Next comes ...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Out with the old, In with the new

The place I work at resides in a county run by a good-old-boy network of businesses and politicians. This means no Olive Garden restaurant because Mary Lou's roach infested eatery and Bubba's greasy-spoon diner would go out of business. This means no Lowe's because Fred's Hardware would have to offer more of what people want. Since Mary Lou, Bubba, Fred, and all of their kins have ties into the political system, well, it's political suicide to disappoint family. So, this large population of everyone else who's isn't kin have to travel to neighboring counties to eat better and buy what they need.

But all of this is about to change. In January, one of the old-guard politicians died and a younger upstart took his place. Yesterday, several of my fellow workers who live in the county did nothing but talk about the exciting news: There would be several walmart jobs available as a Superstore opened in the county by fall of this year.

Hopefully, this means a very welcomed and much needed change in an area of high unemployment and high taxes. All it took was a slight change in the political machinery and those two magic words "election year".

Things You'll Never Hear

It was unbelievable! The baseball game was in full swing; bottom of the ninth inning with two outs, a tied score, and bases loaded - as were some of the players and most of the fans.

On the mound stood the confident pitcher: full-time star, part-time magician, and anxious to end this game so he could get on with the relief pitcher – the cold one full of beer. So he decided on a devious plan. With two strikes on the batter, the pitcher unexpectedly fumbled the return throw from the catcher. The way our heroic pitcher frantically hunted around the mound, you thought that the ball had disappeared.

The nervous runner on third took advantage of this mishap and made his mad dash home. At first, he was confused by the yelling fans and the frantic waves from the line coach. He then realized his mistake and began running from first towards home; then, cursing to himself, he changed his course again and headed towards home plate.

Just as our intrepid runner came within two game-winning strides away from home plate, one of those sturdy amsec safes dropped from overhead – well within the playing area of the field – and struck the ground directly between the runner and his intended goal. As the impact sprung the safe door opened, the missing baseball popped out, striking the runner in the face and knocking him unconscious. The umpire screamed, "Safe! You're out!"

This cleared the benches of both teams. Within minutes, the fans were thrilled as several boxing matches began on the field. Unexpectedly, these fights ended as sporadic hockey games broke out. Soon, members of the ground crew tried to regain baseball dignity by chasing the hockey players off the field with yells of "Puck off! Puck off!"

At this point, I realized I need to do a better job of watching what I eat before I go to bed.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Moo, y'all.

Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Not the best relationship advice to follow. Especially since I'm getting tired of being the cow. But maybe that's what I'm heifer.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

will and testament

On my top 10 list of this year's "have to be done or die trying" is the writing of my will (and hopefully done before the "die trying" part kicks in). So I've researching what I can and cannot do as my final hurrah. Good grief but the law is so picky!

Apparently, you can't just tattoo a note on your chest requesting that they toss your body in with the rest of the weekly garbage pickup. I also learned that several environmental laws and town decrees ban any type of Viking burial – including flaming arrows and a burning boat – in your backyard swimming pool. It saddens me to think we live in a time so controlled by anti-fun people: rule-makers who don't want you to celebrate the end of your life with a bang (at least, according to the anti-cannon ordinances).

As you can imagine, my research had me a little miffed, not only at the over-reaching laws, but at that class of people who craft our many maniacal mandates - lawyers. Well, I was miffed until my research turned up a website for raleigh nc lawyers.

As I read their noble, humanity-saving mission statements and bios, I got to thinking that perhaps I was a bit harsh on this most ancient of professions. It's not as though everyday justice is a simple clear-cut matter. You almost have to have a little sympathy for a group that has to use three words when one would suffice: "null AND void" instead of invalid, "cease AND desist" instead of stop, "have AND hold" instead of routine.

But then again, why would any group keep alive a thousand-year old habit, a tradition started by those wacky English and French as they worked on "breaking and entering" into each others' country? I know why. Billing at higher fees becomes "cut and dry" when you make your work "fit and proper" by sounding three times as difficult.

OK. Now I'm miffed again.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

building procrastination one day at a time

Sometime during the years of marriage and kids and hobbies and endless preparations for to-do projects that remain undone, my little old empty house became my littler, older, overfull house. I tried selling and giving away as much of the accumulating clutter as I could, yet our possessions multiplied even faster. Somewhere we crossed the philosophical line of half-empty/half-full and began racing dangerously close to that quaint expression of "hoarder".

My mother used to say, "Out of sight, out of mind." As a child, I used to think how silly that expression was as I stumbled around in the dark, constantly proving how out-of-sight protrusions would become in-of-mind with my out-of-placed shin.

Of course, that's when I was a child. Now I'm an adult, and often out-of-my-mind. So I bought one of those metal buildings to put in my backyard and squirrel away our many goodies for another time.

Fortunately, I bought a do-it-yourself shed kit during one of the great sales. (In fact, if it wasn't for those wonderful sales, I probably wouldn't have my wonderful clutter. "Look! Canned yams, 20 for a $1! I know we don't eat yams. Still, what great deal!") Unfortunately, I bought the kit during the dead of winter when exposed body parts instantly freeze and the lure of outdoor work is in hibernation. But I'm not a quitter ... or a hoarder. I resolved to put my storage savior together when the warmer days of spring arrived.

An excellent idea ... had Spring arrived. But over the course of a few weeks in March of that year, we went from freezing cold to sweltering heat. Not that I'm trying to make excuses for leaving my shed unassembled. You know how balmy, hundred degree days make it impossible to do anything constructive outside without being naked and under a hose of cool water. And, being the dry, considerate neighbor that I am, I decided to wait for the comforting days of Fall.

There was much rejoicing when those cool, refreshing autumn days fell upon us. There was also billions of dead leaves to dispose of, storm windows to install, and football games that had to be watched least the wrong team win (which often happened anyway). Soon, the frigid winds of winter arrived and I had to wait upon the fair days of spring again.

I'm happy to report that this winter makes the ninth year that my metal shed has remained crated - an unbuilt building. Of course, my wonderful family has accumulated even more stuff. So tomorrow, I plan to go out and buy a second storage structure. At the very least, my purchase can keep my first unassembled kit from feeling lonely.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

bad life habits.

I took advantage of the beautiful spring weather and took my three-year-old nephew to the park today. We played on one ride, and he talked with a little girl playing in the sandbox; then, after just a few minutes of our arrival at the park, he fussed to go home.

I realize that he loves baseball and the season is about to begin. Still, I hope he learns that there is more to life than a swing and a miss ...

who wants their end heated?

Near the end of October of last year, our sales team, always eager to pounce on a potential marketing opportunity, called an emergency meeting. Our VP of sales asked me if I could develop a miniature control switch that would operate heating elements inside of car seats. "No problem," I said. He said, "Great! We needed a working demo in time for an auto show next week so that we can start taking orders next month in time for winter sales."

By now, our VP should know that it takes a minimum of four months for the simplest of projects to make it through the gauntlet of design, validation, purchasing requirements, ISO-9000 certification demands, and into the first day of error-free production. Of course, if our sales team admitted to this knowledge, they couldn't blame all of us for their continually missed "zillions of dollars" of sales to upper management.

What is more amazing is that all of our sales employees are college graduates. Yet, with another occurrence of a seat heater sales opportunity, the knowledge has again eluded them that winter occurs twice a year on our planet of potential customers. If we don't make the December's deadline for people in the northern hemisphere, there are people in the southern hemisphere who will have cars and cold derrières in June.

I wonder if other cold-season businesses have this same issue with their sales team. Take for example, " electric blankets". Who doesn't need the warmth of heated bedding during the bone-chilling nights of winter.

Of course, that is an unfair example to compare with my company. Drivers may need a toasty tush in the midst of a freezing winter. However, if you are or have been married, you know that, even during the worst scorching nights of summer, an electric blanket is extremely vital to your woman's seemingly frostbitten extremities. Without such a heated covering, many a man has been suddenly wakened in frozen anguish to wonder how well a blow torch would operate under the covers of their marital bed.

In any case, as of last week, we finally presented a finished, extremely competitive product to our sales group. During our pre-production meeting, our VP of sales talked about how he greatly appreciated our long hours and sleepless night to rush this project towards production. Then he quietly mentioned that the sales requirements had changed. Could we scrap what we have done and have a new version ready to sell by next week?

The ensuing discussion would have heated many a rear-end. During the conversations, our VP of sales was often referred to as an especially flaming member of the human anatomy. You know, given the elevated temperatures, the red faces, the heated discussions, perhaps we are selling the wrong product. If we should find a market for people who would sit on a heated VP of sales ...

Friday, March 16, 2012

writing on purpose.

OK. For some silly reason, I thought I should develop my writing skills, then self-publish a few books on Amazon and work myself into a retiring life of ease. So, for the past few months, I focused on various highly-recommended books on writing, forced myself into long nights of study, and committed myself to capturing whatever silly thought crossed my mind. (Don't worry, most of these practice pieces are well hidden in draft format. You will never see them on this blog. Maybe.)

Yes, I know what you're thinking. Just what we need during the year of the apocalypse, more junk to add to the ever growing mountain of books from writers who think you need to be privy to their every miniscule thought.

Of course, you forget that this is a marketing game. I only have to tickle the fancy of anyone who has nothing better to do than to read my silliness. Out of 7 billion people, I only need a dollar a year from less than 50,000 readers to live a comfortable life. People have become millionaires with more trivial products - pet rock, new coke, Lady Gaga.

I feel bad for trivializing this fact, but I don't have long to live. So I only need to act like an endearing fool for a short while. The staying power of the Iliad and the Odyssey have nothing to worry about. It's just me and my brief flicker of inane thoughts, and impossible hopes of grandeur. Buy for now!

Things are going swimmingly

Congratulations! In three days, we will celebrate the beginning of winter! Oops, my mistake … the beginning of spring! Normally, we have a seasonal period of intense cold that kills mosquitoes, wood roaches, and other creepy crawlies who would make your upcoming bright summer days regrettable. However, no Arctic-type weather this season it seems.

Somehow, I missed our wintery interval. The last thing I remembered was a flurry of dead leaves, a frosty morning or two, and one 10° day that would make those annoying summertime bugs say, "Ooh, that's a might chilly! Hope it doesn’t last too long and kill me!" The next thing I know - here we are, basking in 80° days with trees a-bloomin' and pollen a-ttackin'.

The good thing about this lack of winter has been the impact on one of our more snobby neighbors. Not only do they have a large pool, but they have a pool heater so they can show off their status by comfortably swimming during those freezing days of January and February. "Those freezing days" being the key phrase.

I admit it. Nothing can thrill the human spirit more than watching some fool make that invigorating jump from warm, soothing waters of a heated pool into the chilly airs of winter. The Swedes made this pastime famous with their X-rated romps from boiling saunas into shrinkage-inducing snows. So normally, our neighborhood would secretly covet that envious fog as it rolled off the artificially warmed waters of our evil neighbor’s pool.

This year, however, the obscenely mild wintertime cooled our neighborly jealousy. And this is a good thing. The more petty among us were about to sabotage a couple of our smug neighbor's pentair pool heater parts and blame it on the rage of mother nature and karma for not having pool parties for us all.

I don't know what summer will bring, but I don't think our saboteurs will be forgiving. I have a feeling that, during August, someone's pool water will mysteriously approach the boiling point. Might be due to that global warming thing, but who can say for certain.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Yet another "national" object day.

Today, I celebrated National Pie day by baking an apple pie with 3.141569 apples in it. I'm just making sure I've covered all my bases.

Are You LinkedIn?

Scott Nicholson has this great article identifying winning and losing industries through various trends on LinkedIn.

If you don't know what LinkedIn is, don't worry. It's another social media like Facebook, only for business people and workers. So there is less drama and incriminating photos (but I make no guarantees). It is a great tool to look for a job while hiding for your boss who are also using LinkedIn to abandon the ship of their "great" business venture.

For the heck of it, I picked a random company to compare to the company I work for.

For example, take sterkly on Linkedin. Sterkly is an Internet company that deals with affiliate marketing – kind of like product placement in a movie except that you have to click on the object on the webpage instead of throwing popcorn at it as it taunts you from the silver screen.

The workplace I work for is in the automotive manufacturing industry. Definitely not as trendy as affiliate marketing on social media. In fact, I didn't even know our company had a presence on LinkedIn until I started researching this post.

Sterkly makes their money through CPA – cost per action. Basically, Sterkly gets a cut from their clients' business only if someone clicks on a product link, or when someone downloads software, or if someone completes a registration through a link that Sterkly has on a particular affiliated web page.

My company and its investors also make money through "cost per action" ... as long as that action involves layoffs, workforce enhancements (firings), and the righteous business decisions by overzealous bean counters.

Based on Mr. Nicholson's graph, Sterkly's business model places well ahead of the company I work for. The good thing about LinkedIn is that you can track when companies are hiring. So Sterkly is at the top of my list ... for some odd reason.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

taxes and dst.

Daylight "savings" time is kind of like income tax. Near the beginning of the year, the government takes an hour from all of us. Then, several months later, our efficient bureaucrats graciously give those confiscated hours back to us. And, just as inflation diminishes the value of our refunded tax dollar, so our returned hour is now worth less because we are older and time is moving faster.

Do you know what they do with those extorted millions of hours? I don't. Our trusty public servants certainly aren't spending that time in areas where they need to speed up operations, like the DMV or the post office. I don't know where the savings is, but I'm pretty sure we're not the recipients.

There are tests, then there are TESTS

Everyone needs a hobby, and lately it seems that most of my friends and family have picked college. Not me. If I want to take on more aggravation and useless debt, I can always get married again.

This week, all of these college students returned home for their spring break. Have they regaled me with wondrous tales about all the exciting knowledge that they’re accumulating? No! All I hear about is how bad the classes are and how tough the testing has been for them – proof that money doesn't buy happiness. Well, college money at least.

They whine about all the studying they had to do (or didn't do), and about the terrible results for all their long hours and torturous efforts. Of course, it could be worse. Instead of college course testing, it could have been std testing.

With college exams, you want to tell the world how well you did. With STD tests, you are forced to tell how well you did – especially to those you "studied with".

With college exams, the preparation is tedious and mind numbing. With STD tests, there isn't a whole lot of thought that goes into preparation – which is part of the problem.

With college exams, there is a lot of anxiety about failing. With STD tests, there is a lot of anxiety about not failing.

Hopefully, all my friends and family will recover this week from their college ordeals. And, hopefully, they won't do anything foolish enough this week to make their course exams seem like a easy walk in the park.

I give up, you win.

Watching and reading and hearing about all of the caucus debates is getting to be a bit much. All of the empty promises and the childish attacks - I feel like a vegetarian who's been given the choice between chicken and beef. I can't wait for the presidential debates so I can wonder why I eat at all.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Today's Lesson.

I keep seeing the acronym "FML" on Facebook, on Twitter, and a few other socially hip sites. Today, I learned that FML doesn't mean "fax me later".

Sorry, I guess I got a little behind the times. You would have thought that the "fax" part should have been a clue, but nooooo.....

a good relationship is a miserable one?

As guys, we have a very simple relationship standard: if our girlfriend or wife (or "girlfriend and wife" for the more adventurous among us) is happy, then we are happy. To us it's obvious -- if we do everything to please the love of our life and she is happier than the New York Giants winning the Super Bowl, then we're all winners. Toss me a cold beer, boys! Life is good.

However, according to a recent study, women have a far more convoluted standard to judge the success of their relationships. Are you ready for this earth-shattering revelation about mars and venus?

Well, hold on to your asteroid belt because, apparently, the fairer gender of our species is happy only when she believes her male counterpart is miserable. The intricate workings of female logic goes like this: the more miserable her favorite fella is, the more work he must be putting in the relationship. A happy partner is a no-good, lazy partner.

I bring up this little tid-bit because several of my male friends are planning a weekend camping trip while leaving their fair-maidens behind in civilization. The idea is that the time apart will do everyone some good.

I guess my unsuspecting friends haven't read this incredible study of life between the sexes. Otherwise, they would know there is only way their happy women will be in the throes of absolute bliss: the men have to return with horrible stories of their camping experience. My friends will have to regale horrific tales of enduring skunked beer, bad food, freezing snow while a boiling sun baked their skin. Instead of fish-a-plenty biting at their hooks, their wolverine boots will have to be actual live wolverines gnawing on swollen feet of my buddies.

Of course, if one bro needs a break-up plan, he only has to utter those relationship-killing words, "Yeah, I had a great time!" (As long as he doesn't add the phrase, "without you". That would be the kiss of death. His, not the relationship.)

So remember, if a man is happy because his lady is happy, then she must be happy because he is miserable. It's so obvious, I don't know why I didn't think of it.

Yes, I do. I didn't think of it because I'm a guy.

And some people wonder why men die sooner than women.

DST - Daylight waSte of Time.

What was that saying? Fall behind, spring ahead ... so you can be even further behind. That's why I am going to set my clock back 23 hours tonight. This way I will have lost nothing and will get to spend my daylight savings immediately.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

International Women's Day.

Today is International Women's Day! Hurray! I would celebrate but all the international women I know live overseas.

Of course, I could visit the local Korean-owned nail salon for a manicure, or rather, a man-icure. Then, I could go to the International House of Pancakes and tip the waitress a little more generously with my stylized hands.

Nah. I'll just wait until November 19 for International Men's Day and treat myself with German beer, Mexican food, and Chinese take-out. Until then, I'll just practice.

Don't exhale when you read this.

In today's absolutely mind-blowing, weird news, I learned that the Reverend Pat Robertson actually advocated the legalization of marijuana. My first thought was, ˝What is that guy smoking?˝ But that question sort of answered itself. In any case, I guess this gives a new meaning to Mr. Robertson as a holy roller.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Gold Rush

So silence is, what, over $1700 an ounce. However, with my annoying friend, silence is a lot cheaper. More like aluminum foil – very crinkly and as disturbing as chewing on it.

The price for gold is so high that people are doing all sorts of crazy things. Oh sure, you can go various places and, for example, “
buy gold at Golden Eagle”. Yet, many folks are more interested in selling their personal items for profit.

Recently, I saw Goldilocks go into pawn shop that advertised high dollars for your golden goodies. She walked out a short time later with her head shaven and her purse bulging with money. As sunlight bounced off her bare cranium and onto the side of the building, she said, "This experience will give me time to reflect."

Rapunzel heard about Goldilocks’s financial windfall, and set about coloring her brunette tresses into a radiant golden blonde. However, when she went into the same place, they told Rapunzel that her plating was much too thin to amount to much.

I'm hoping for a time when silver is rage and costs thousands of dollars an ounce. Perhaps then I can turn my graying locks into retirement money. Although I'm sure they have a policy against buying fools gold.

rewarding work

The amount of panic shown by upper management was incredible. After all, the entire issue revolved around a small square-head set screw. Who knew that a three-quarter inch piece of metal could cause so much turmoil for our bosses?

Naturally, what was at stake was nothing trivial to those powers-that-be. This mac 90 screw would decide the fate of their $5,000 bonus – a bonus that wouldn't affect their employees who were doing the actual work.

Yet, somehow, somewhere, someone had already depleted inventory for this normally unimportant artifact. Now, fingers pointed, accusations flew, temper tantrums ensued, and more importantly, production came to a halt. No orders would be going to the customer on that last day of the month. Replacement parts would be in the next day; but that all-important bonus depended on what went out the door in February.

Then, at the 11th hour, a miracle occurred. It happened long after the executives had gone home that afternoon to their golf games and martinis.

After spending a grueling 14-hour day in a scramble to fill all of the months orders, a couple of employees dismantled several warranty returns, and sifted through many more drawers in the maintenance area. They managed to find enough screws to complete that critical shipment for their overseers’ bonuses.

So, in the end, upper management received their windfall. As for those dedicated workers, well, they have yet to receive a “thank you”.

What Am I Trying to Say Here

Look at this phrase and telling which word doesn't fit: "small business loans bad credit". That's right! All of them!

First of all, the motivated, wealth-driven, visionary as an entrepreneur doesn't think in terms of “small”! You have got to think big, Gigantic, ENORMOUS! "small" is for shrimp boat captains! And you aren't a shrimp boat. Are you!

Forget the word "business". Instead, think in terms of "providing a profitable and pleasurable transaction with your victim… I mean, your customer." To be successful, you got to think positive. And wordy. Nothing sells ice cream to the Eskimos better than wordy confusion. (As this post may prove.)

Loan? We don't deal in loan. We deal in loans; with the capital S! We deal in the temporary acquisition of another's resourceS ... unless, of course, those resources involve sharks. We don't deal with loan sharks. Too bitey. And no capital S.

Ahhh, the old, negative, downer of a word "bad". Unless you are working on your street-cred, and you need to be bad to be good, we should just skip the word altogether to avoid confusion. However, if your confusion is bad in a good, street-cred manner, be sure to use "baddeSt" (again, with the capital S to show how badly good you is. Word.)

Finally, there is “credit”. Always remember that we are a successful, tough-minded, take-no-prisoners kind of entrepreneur. We give credit to no one! We might take credit, but that's the kind of non-shrimp boat, wordy, non-loan shark dealing, confused kind of person that we are.

And there you have it! I have no idea what it is, but you are welcome! Please pay at the door as you leave.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

bad love, no vampires needed

His head ached as he ended the phone call with her. But not as much as his heart. As he slowly rested the receiver back in its cradle, his memory tortured him with the sounds of when her voice was once full of love and hope and happiness.

But now, the honeymoon was over. Her tones were full of unspoken gripes and complaints. Behind her cheerless voice, he heard "what have you done for me lately?" In the beginning, it was her implicit coos of "what can I do to make you happy?" made him give love a second chance.

But now, like the strangling hold of Wisteria vines around a mighty oak, she had him now. Try as he might, he could not stop her true personality from infecting his life. He had as much chance as hiring a durham house cleaning service to work for him in Antarctica as he did trying to untangle his life from his latest mistake - her.

There was a time when her love was a wonderful fire that warmed and filled his heart. Now, it was a raging, crazed inferno that threatened to reduce his life to ashes. Our hero had no idea how he was going to save himself this time.

Sermon On The Monte

To deal with engineering problems at work, we sometimes have to perform a "Full Monte". This has nothing to do with being naked around power tools. We just call our futile exercise of humiliation as the "Full Monte." Basically, we strip our pride and bare our souls to release new, untested products that sales sold ahead of time in spite of our protests.

Sales and management often enjoy "counting chickens before they hatch" while forgetting the part about buying the rooster. But it's engineering's fault as we frequently point out that little necessity during the development process to production.

Anyway, we use a statistical tool called a Monte Carlo simulation, hence the "Monte" part. We take adjoining pieces in an assemble and simulate all the possible sizes that our vendor will send us.

This exercise answers many questions. Such as, how likely will the resulting assemble be too large, too small, or a just-right fit? And, how likely will we meet the customer’s requirements? And, how likely with the VPs get a large bonus for making us use sub-standard parts that may or may not be the correct size? And, how likely are we wasting time on an exercise where we already know how bad production will be? (Surprisingly, pay raises never makes the list of things most likely to occur.)

Monte Carlo is a very versatile statistical tool. When I think of the name, I’ve wondered if people ever used it back in the days of “Let’s Make a Deal” show? The master-of-ceremonies, Monte Hall, would randomly pick overly excited contestants from an audience full of people wearing the most outrageous costumes. I have no doubt that these people did everything possible to get selected - included the use of complicated math.

One time, I remember Monte (the person, not the algorithm) chose a rather large woman dressed as a big ol’ montecristo cigar. This happened during the late 80's when such a get-up was funny. Those crazy cigar moments have changed since the days of President Clinton. Since his administration, you can thank the anti-smoking people for taking a giant super-soaker to such tobacco hilarity. I think it's their fault. I could be wrong.

Oh well. Where was I? Oh yeah, we use math at work without getting naked. Probably a good thing. The last thing we need is for Human Resources to make a Montezuma out of a molehill.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Faking Yourself Into Better Deals.

As the TV actor barely held on to the enormous sandwich, his hamburger look tempting enough for me to drive to the advertised fast food joint in my pajamas. Fortunately, I know a few things about advertising, so reason prevailed. That and a large pizza in the oven.

The makers of commercials must think we are idiots. For example, most of us know that the actor is just a tad over 3 feet tall. Since a mini muffin will look like a five layer cake in his hands, it's no surprise that the tantalizing, overpriced, tiny hamburger will look it like it could feed most of Ethiopia.

Still, I think the advertisers on to something. People are more likely to surrender their hard-earned money when you make an overvalued object seem like a better deal than it really is.

So let’s put this philosophy to use. The next time you go to a gas station, have a child hold the handle in its wee hands while you watch the rapid changing price on the pump display. Then you can say to yourself in amazement, “I must be getting a great deal on my gas! Look at how much fuel is being pumped by those small hands!“

Yes, I know. As gas prices go higher, we’ll eventually need a newborn to pump our gas. But think of the deal that we'll be getting on our petrol purchase. And we'll need a pacifier to help choke back our tears.

my golden baby

In less than 2000 miles, my Hyundai Tiburon will cross the 300,000-mileage mark. My previous car, a Nissan stanza wagon, reached the 405,000 miles before my mechanic convinced me that it wouldn't even survive another car wash. Both vehicle have given me my money's worth and then some.

You would think there would be some award for getting every last inch out of your vehicles. But sadly, no. I have yet to get a gold medal, a gold necklace, or even a mass-airflow sensor to replace the one that wore off its gold plating during its selfless service.

I still have hope for that trophy. My Tiburon has several thousand miles in her aging frame. Yes, I know that she doesn't look as sleek and sexy as the day that I bought her. And every time I fill her up with gas, I double her value. Still, she gets me to my destination ... mostly. And aside from her suddenly noticeable odd noises, my Tib is a joy to drive ... though warily.

Maybe I will get that award. Or, at least, a pay raise for a new car. Either way, I have a wonderful car. And AAA.